Jensen, a government employee at McClellan, was killed earlier this month after being struck by a truck while riding his bike on Golden Springs Road in Anniston.
“It just felt like with Derek being gone, I needed something to keep him in our thoughts for a little bit longer,” said Anniston resident Terry Phillis, who often rode with Jensen. “It’s something that might help me slow down while driving or keep an eye on the road.”
Phillis said he’s accepting any donation amount for the wristbands, but hopes to raise $1,000 to donate to a scholarship fund for Jensen’s children on behalf of the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association.
Although Phillis didn’t know Jensen very well outside of cycling, the loss has been hard to bear.
“I knew him extremely well for about an hour three times a week,” he said. “I knew him on the road very well, but I didn’t really know him outside of that. That’s one of the things that can make it kind of hard, just how quickly things can change for any of us.”
Phillis said he hopes the blue bracelets, the same color as Jensen’s bike, help remind those who use the roads to be careful and watchful of others.
“Ultimately, I just hope that we can make this a safe place for people to ride, drive, walk, run, anything,” he said. “Unfortunately, Derek had to pay the ultimate price for that, but if it could help us all be safer, that’d be good.”
Wristbands can be found in numerous locations in the Anniston and Oxford area, including Wig’s Wheels, Fun Wheels, Animal Medical Center, Mellow Mushroom and The Anniston Star.
Friends of Jensen also will honor him with a memorial ride before participating in the annual Fourth of July Ride. The memorial ride, also sponsored by the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association, will start at Harvest Church at 520 Golden Springs Road and continue to Golden Springs Baptist Church. Riders who wish to continue with the Fourth of July Ride will make their way up to Horseblock Mountain. Jensen’s wife and three children are expected to attend and ride during the memorial.
“It’s a celebration ride of Derek’s life, the life that he led, the example that he set, but also the lives that he created, his children,” said Preston York, the association’s vice president and a close friend of Jensen. “It’s wonderful to have them there with us. They are a reflection of him. It’s just a way to keep him in our thoughts and keep him alive in our hearts and minds.”
York hopes the ride will create awareness among community members.
“We’re not only remembering Derek, but we’re also bringing awareness to motorists that we are sharing the road and for them to keep us in mind and be aware and be respectful.”
All members of the community regardless of experience level are welcome to attend the memorial ride, organizers said. It begins at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.